shocked

Dear Cellphone gods

Step 1: Shock and Denial

Dear Cellphone Gods,

There’s no way my phone can be screwed up. I need it for tonight ASAP. I was just about to read the most important text message I will have EVER received in my entire life when you started acting funny.

This.

is.

not.

possible.

You have to fix this.

Horrifiedly yours,

Sarah

 

 

Step 2: Pain and Guilt

Dear Cellphone Gods,

I am sorry I kept 2,000 photos and videos on my phone along with countless apps and over 100 notes to myself about miscellaneous things that, in the scheme of things, don’t matter at all.

I really didn’t need to put 40 Florence and the Machine Songs on my cellphone earlier tonight (even though that band in amazing and I am in love with all their songs).

It hurts me to think my phone might never turn on again. It pains me to think that  all my pictures and vides could be gone and lost forever.

Regretfully yours,

Sarah

 

Step #3 Bargaining

Dear Cellphone Gods,

You can’t really be this cruel to me.

If you recesitate my phone from the land of the dead, I promise to be kinder to my phone.

I will be less clumsy.  I will be the best cellphone owner you have ever seen. I promise.

I will make sacrifices every day in your honor. Restore my phone to me.

Faithfully yours,

Sarah

 

Step #4: Anger 

Dear Cellphone Gods,

What is your problem!?!? Seriously!!

WHY ARE YOU PUNISHING  ME BY MAKING ME LIVE MY LIFE WITHOUT MY PHONE?

I LIVE IN A LAND WHERE HARDLY ANYONE SPEAKS FLUENT ENGLISH. GOOGLE TRANSLATE IS MY BEST FRIEND. HOW DARE YOU TAKE GOOGLE TRANSLATE AWAY FROM ME!!

And Kakaotalk!

I NEED IT TO SURVIVE. I HAVE TO SEND PEOPLE PHOTOS OF WHAT I AM DOING AT EACH AND EVERY MOMENT ACCOMPANIED BY AN ADORABLE EMOTICON.

PEOPLE ARE DYING FROM BOREDOM WITHOUT MY CONSTANT TEXT UPDATES!!

I HATE YOU. I WILL ALWAYS HATE YOU.

Hatefully Yours,

Sarah  

 

Step 5 & 6: Depression, Reflection, & Loneliness, 

Dear Cellphone Gods,

I might never see the light of day again. People probably think I have died. And part of me did. My soul died when my phone and my pictures were taken from me. Who am I without my phone?

Lonely. I’m Ms. lonely. I have nobody for my own…. Lonely. I’m Ms. lonely. I have nobody— I’m too depressed to finish this. I let this song tell you my feelings.

Sadly Yours,

Sarah

Step 7: Acceptance and Hope

Dear Cellphone Gods,

Whatever. What’s done is done. I can only be bitter and angry for so long before I have more important things to worry my pretty little head about.

Let’s let bygones be bygones and let’s move on with our lives.

Maybe this is a blessing in disguise. I probably didn’t need all those photos anyway. It can be a new start. I can learn from my mistakes and make sure I upload my photos to a safer place more frequently and regularly.

Hey, maybe I can get a better phone.

Peacefully yours,

Sarah

 

–> as of now I haven’t quite gotten to step 7. Maybe when my phone is fixed or I get a new one I will feel at peace with the world.

whattt confused

Day 126: Is it the UMW Effect or Living in a Non English Speaking Country?

Maybe it’s the fact that I studied at UMW or maybe it’s the fact I am currently residing in a non-English speaking country, but lately I find myself eagerly wanting to read academic writing.

Case in point: a month ago at a party one of my friends, Erin, was talking about her favorite book series “The Queen’s Thief” by Megan Whalen Turner. She told us that she wrote her 15 page senior thesis paper on it.

I immediately demanded that I read it. It sounded interesting.

Erin looked at me as if I was crazy.

Erin: Why would you want to read my 15 page paper I wrote forever ago?

Sarah: Why wouldn’t I want to read it?

Everyone else: Really? You want to read an academic paper???

Sarah: Yes! It sounds wonderful!

Cue more strange looks all around.

I really don’t know when exactly I morphed into a person eager to read book analyses. Maybe it is due to the fact  I graduated college two years ago. Shocking!

Or maybe it’s because I actually feel inspired lately to write my own an academic paper simply because it sounds like fun. Double shock!!

Anyways, Erin told me: If you are going to read my paper, you have to read the books first. Otherwise it will ruin the books.

Challenge accepted.

I dropped $20 on the trilogy and started reading them on my Kindle. Kindles are quite possibly the best invention ever, despite my love affair with real paperback books.

Personally,  I am not the biggest fan on the “Queen’s Thief” series because I think Turner has issues with pacing. Sometimes I would be reading and I would feel really bored, other times the action was great and I couldn’t put the books down.

I feel like this was an issue in all three books and the only thing that kept me reading was the fact that I wanted to read Erin’s analysis.

When I finally finished the book series and finally got to read Erin’s paper (despite the fact she kept insisting that I really wouldn’t want to read it) I have to say I felt an enormous sense of satisfaction.

One downside of living in Korea is that I don’t always get to discuss books and literature and various other things with people as in depth as I would with my friends back home. I feel like most of the time here I don’t have time to read and even if I do, most of the Koreans I interact with would be overwhelmed/incapable of speech if I suddenly tried to do a literature/ cultural analysis with them.

I think my intellectual/academic interests are sometimes swept under the rug here, so the opportunity to engage the analytic part of my brain is enticing to me.

Being a huge fiction nerd I never thought I would say that that I thoroughly enjoyed reading academic writing. But enjoyed it I did. I think my time at UMW has rubbed off on me.

 

 

confused korean

Day 92 Part 2: I attempt the impossible

Part 1: Korean Names Overview

PART 2: Attempting the impossible

This year I am attempting the impossible. I am teaching over 600 students and I want to remember all of their names!

Why? Because students respond much better in class when you know their name versus saying “Hey you! Red Sweater! Read the sentence!” The students already have the problem of speaking English as a second language, so if they are zoning out the best way to grab their attention is to say “MINJU!!” Generally they snap to very quickly after that.

The Inherent problems in this task:

1)     My classes are HUGE and I don’t see them that often

2)    Korean Names are really similar!

3)    Korean students don’t always write their name properly in English

4)    Korean Names are hard to pronounce

5)    Korean students look very similar

Problem #1:

I have many students in my classes. My smallest class is about 14 kids, but an average class size for me is 32 students. The 3rd  grade students (9th grade in America) I see once a week. The 2nd grade students (8th grade in America) I see once every three weeks.

Problem #2:

There is a huge similarity among Korean names. Check out Part One: Overview of Korean Names for more details.

Furthermore  in Korea it is important to introduce your  full name when you meet someone.

In America, it’s easy.

“Hey! What’s your name?”

“Sarah.”

“Sarah! Nice to meet you! I’m Riley.”

In Korea:

“What’s your name?”

 “My name is Jeong Seung Hyun!” the student spits out faster than a rattlesnake biting it’s prey. 

First of all, too fast! Secondly, your family name is unimportant!

Family name! This is too much!!

I just want to know their first name. However, this confuses them because they always say their last name first.

So then I end up asking them “What’s your given name” which further confuses them!

Given name? What does given name mean?

Problem #3:

Even though at this point my students have been studying English for 5 or 6 years, some students don’t know how to write their name in English and/or when they do they write it wrong.

This was a challenge for me when I first moved to Korea since I couldn’t read, write or speak Korean.  Blog post pending about the trials of trying to learn names last year.

So if I look at a Korean name written in English and try to pronounce it, I might end up saying the name wrong because it is written wrong!

Wrong all around

Problem #4:

Even if a student wrote their name completely right, some Korean names are REALLY hard for me to pronounce.  They are foreign and strange sounding.

Like this name:

I find the vowel    hard to pronounce in Korean words, which makes it difficult when I have to say the student’s name.

And this this name:

Gyuuuuu is just weird to say. So no matter how hard I might try to a say Korean student’s name I will probably mess it up.

Why so difficult!!

There are many more examples I can think of, but I think you got the point.

Problem  #5:

Korean students look very similar. They tend to have same  eye color, same hair color, same haircut,  and many students wear thick, black framed glasses.

Hair cut styles:

For Girls: Long (straight or permed) & Bangs! Almost every Korean girl student has bangs and they  are CONSTANTLY brushing them.

For Boys: Short (sometimes permed!)

Not to mention all my students wear the same uniform!

This is exactly what I am talking about. THE SAME!

I felt like the students tended to blur together more my first semester teaching because just how similar they all looked compared to American students. American students differ vastly in both facial features and also in their style of clothing.

The loud kids in my classes are really easy for me to distinguish from the others and same goes for the kids who physical appearance sets them apart from the others. The students with a different hair style (colored! a light brown!), or  a student who wears white glasses instead of black, or who throws on a preppy sweater over their collared shirt tend to be more memorable.

But for the more quiet students, unfortunately, it was and still is lot easier for them to blend in the background since my classes are just so BIG.

–>  So what normally happens as a result of all of this: 

I will ask a student their name. They will tell me “Kim Sang Jun.” I will attempt to remember their name, but won’t see the student for 1 or 3 weeks. In the meantime I have a ton of other students whose names I want to learn.

When I finally see that student in class again, the following three scenarios ensue:

1)     I will end up forgetting Kim Sang Jun’s name entirely. Oops.

2)     I will confuse him with someone else because I think he looks like “Jae Won” He’s not Jae Won. Damn.

 

3)    I call on him and say “Seong Jun!”

“Teacher! WRONG! Sang Jun! Sang Jun”

Double damn.

Solutions:

Last year I had each student make a name tag. My vision was that they would always bring it with them to class and slowly over time I would learn all their names with the help of the visual stimulation.

WRONG! The kids would forget to bring it to class or would lose them.

You forgot? You lost it?.... Cool

As a result, feeling so overwhelmed my first couple months teaching here, I didn’t end up learning my student’s names unless they specifically sought me outside of class to talk to me a lot.  I know, I know. That’s terrible.

My only excuse is it was hard to adjust to Korea land.

This year’s plan:

At the beginning of my first class with my students I had each student write their name in English AND Korean (in case they wrote their name in English wrong) and then I took their picture with their name. Seeing the students name WITH their face has made it a lot easier for me to remember their names.

Also, seating charts! I made a specific seating chart for each of my classes which I constantly refer to. Some students names I know off the bat because I talked with them a lot last year and this year.

I got this

BUT other students I hardly see, so it’s good to have a reference chart. It is my goal that within next month I will have learned most of their names!  Wish me luck with this endeavor!

 

awkward

Day 92 Part 1: Overview of Korean Names

In the interest of sparing people from information overload, I decided to split up #92 Storyaday into 3 parts.

Part 1: Korean Name Overview

Part 2: I attempt the Impossible

Most Koreans have three names: Family name and two given names. The family name always come first.

Example: Kim Min Ju

Kim= Family Name

Min Ju= Given Names (note that the names are 1 syllable each)

Korea is the land in which everyone has very similar or identical names. Here are the 5 most common surnames in Korea.

 Just because a person has the same last name “Kim” does not mean they are directly related to another person with the last name Kim.

For me, it is impossible to know who is related to who unless they specifically tell me: “That girl is my sister. That boy is my cousin.”

I might think two kids look similar and are brother and sister, but then it turns out they are NOT related and they are boyfriend and girlfriend. Vice versa: I think they are dating, but they are brother and sister. That is an awkward mistake to make.

Now let’s look given names:

 There seems to be a set of given names that Koreans like to use and they deviate from the names very slightly.

 For example, in one class alone I have 8 kids (mostly girls) whose given names starts with “Ji”

Oh dear. That is a lot of Ji’s walking around.

Also, Koreans tend to like to have similar given names but like changing the order of the given names. So in a class I might see students with names like this:

Sometimes the names are very similar but different by one letter:

And, to top it all off,  most of the times it is hard to tell who is a boy and who is a girl by looking at the names.

In America if you see the name “Sarah” and “James” you are going to know that Sarah is a girl and James is a boy.

Likewise if you see names like “Ashley” and and “Dylan” you are probably going to assume “Ashley” is a girl, “Dylan” is a boy. You could be wrong, of course, but more often than not the results will be as expected.

But here in Korea many names seem to be gender neutral which is a problem for foreigners.

For further reading on Korean names I suggest you read these posts. I find them really fascinating!!

Now Read Part 2: I attempt the Impossible !!

confused gif

Again, I am just so impressed with some of my kiddos

Yesterday  was science day at my middle school which meant that the afternoon classes were cancelled. I was just doing work in my office when randomly two boys came to talk to me after they did their science experiment (egg drop).

I ended up talking with them for a long time which is always fun.

They told me that English was hard for them and I told them I feel their pain because for me, Korean is hard.

My students trying to understand & speak English

 

Me trying to speak and understand Korean

I had them help me practice writing sentences in Korean and then I asked them to write what I wrote in Korean into English.

I think it is so cool that even though their English level isn’t super high, they still made the effort to try to communicate with me outside of class. They were under no obligation to talk to me, but rather they came to chat with me on their own volition. I told them I was super proud with them because they were going the extra mile (or in Korea land, kilometer, ha!) to practice English.

I really love it when students come seek me out after class to chat with me for two reasons:

Firstly, most of my classes are pretty BIG!  It’s hard for me to get to know everyone when I have so many students (about 600! not counting the 1st graders in Middle school who I don’t actually teach but I sometimes interact with)

Secondly, I really love chatting with people. I have developed from a shy bookworm into a chatty, chatty, chatty person.  I find it really interesting to hear about my student’s lives, find out what they are interested in and what is important to them.

I am currently taking Korean classes which I think is really helpful for me a teacher. I understand what is is like to be in a class taught almost entirely in another language and feeling lost and confused. Sometimes I feel like the dumbest person in the class and I am frustrated that I don’t know what the teacher is saying and what is going on.

But then when I know what is going on and I can answer a question in Korean or when I write a sentence properly, I feel so accomplished! I think: YAYYYYYYY!

This in turn helps me with dealing with my Korean students because I will sometimes bust out my Korean skillz when I am talking to them.

For example, sometimes in English class the students will be learning a new English word and I will ask them “What is the word for this in Korean?”

Then I will attempt to write it on the board in Korean and when I get it right, I do a little happy dance and say “I am a genius!”

Most of my kids laugh, they probably think I am crazy, but I think they are so surprised and happy I am trying to speak Korean.

I know English is hard, but all I ask is that the kids try! So I am  thrilled when they really make an effort to get out of their comfort zone and chat with me.

 

Konglish: When English is used so very wrongly

I can’t understand how all this terrible English actually makes it on products. How much money would it cost to ask an native English speaker to proofread or edit before you slap English saying on a ton of products?

Pay me $5 and I will help you… Actually I might even do it for free!

I find it really entertaining, but also really dumb.

Enjoy~~

 

1) Doo Doo Fashion

If only they knew what “Doo Doo” meant… although given Korea’s fascination with poop, maybe this was intentional? I will never understand.

2) Make Tasty Make Happy

The first thing I want in the morning is to “Make Tasty Make Happy” smoothies.  A happy smoothie = A happy Sarah.

 

3) Don’t Worry

 

This is possibly the best thing I have ever read. I have it hanging on my wall right now.

4) My fairy of Lamp

 

The. The Lamp. The Lamp.

5) Soresh Throat Lozenges

When I have a soresh throat I take these first.

 

6) Ex-sense is always pleasure.

This is printed on a plastic bag I got a stationary store. I really, really want to know what Ex-sense means.

7) How I fought my cellulite

This is the front cover of an empty notebook. I can’t understand why someone would want to buy a blank notebook that has “How I fought my cellulite” on the cover. Do Koreans even have cellulite?! They are all skinny minnies!

8 ) I’m a love boy

He sounds like a prostitute. I’m a boy in love.

9) I can’t even


This is ALL so WRONG. Seriously? Why even have english on this juice product if a) it’s unnecessary and b) it’s so wrong.

10) Binkini Virus


Do they even know what this means? No bueno. Failing at trying to be  edgy.

Funny Korea Advertisements

Oh Korea. I get a kick out of you.

1) Is it man? Is it a woman?

Koreans seems to enjoy when men dress up as women, despite the fact they are really anti-gay people here. I find it intriguing that the back cover of the magazine (which showcases Korean people on the street wearing interesting fashion choices) blends the top half of a man with the lower half of a woman. Strange.

2) Vampire Makeup?

Because nothing is sexier than having bite marks on your neck… I know that the Koreans love to be uber white, but this is a bit too much.

3) Man advertising Bra?

Why? Why?

I asked my (male) Korean guy friend to explain. He said it was this guy thinks women look good in this bra?

But for the foreigner reading the magazine, it looks like he promoting the best bra for transgendered people.

Hilarious.

4) The burger of choice for vampires

The Korean translated says “Eat it and you will turn into a vampire too!” Since, as you should all know, Vampires just love eating cooked meat with lettuce and bread. Don’t forget the special sauce!

5) James Dean President approved this

I wish someone could explain the need for fake tattoo swirls on this long underwear outfit. Spicing up the drab old nude color with some black swirls? I am curious as to WHO actually would buy this.

6) You must love me


“If you don’t I will kill you and everything you have ever loved slowly and painfully and possibly with a lot of fire and gasoline involved.”

Seriously, this man is frightening. He is airbrushed to the point of fakeness and his eyes look murderous. I can’t look at this without shuddering.

7) Vagina Boas


At quick glance this reads wrong. My friends and I did a double take while passing it on the street.

8) Nobody could look this happy advertising snail cream

Kim Hyun Joong, you could do better than this!

9) Baby cream?


First of all, why is this on the baby’s mouth? It looks really wrong and also he looks like he is about to rushed to the poison control center any minute!

10) Wanna have baby skin

Another creepy baby advertisement. Stop it please. I can’t handle the creepiness anymore!

11) Psy Man Man Man’s Balm

In case it wasn’t clear enough this is for a man. A Man Man Man.

12) Bathhouse fun.

Not an advertisement, this is page in a book for learning Korean & English. Nothing says fun like getting a scrub down from your friend in the bathhouse.

confused

Storyaday Day 99: Bip bi! Bip bi!

Today a 2nd grade student (8th grade in America) kept pointing at my hair and saying “Bip bi! Bip bi!”

I was totally confused and tried writing what she was saying on the board in English. She told me it was wrong and then wrote in Korean.

That didn’t help me at all!

I still was confused and asked my co-teacher was going on. My co-teacher couldn’t really explain it to me and I let it slide to that I could start class.

LATER TODAY

Some girls came to my lunch class and said “Bip Bi! Bip bi!” and pointed at my hair.

Finally it clicked!

They were saying “Pippi!” as in Pippi Longstockings! I had braided my hair today and it reminded them of “Pippi!”

or as the Korean pronounce it “Bip Bi, Bip Bi”

In Korean the P & B sound kind of blends together and it is hard for many students to distinguish between the two.

For example, when I am trying to help a student with spelling a word and I say “B” they might write down “P” and vice versa.

Glad I finally figured out what the girl was trying to say!

Day 88:Tim Burton OR If at first you don’t succeed try again 2 more times

It was July 2010 and I thought I might freeze to death. I was in Melbourne, wearing a white winter coat I had borrowed from my Australian friend and thinking how backwards it was to be utterly frozen in July.

The changes in seasons from the northern hemisphere (in which I had lived 20 years of my life) to the southern hemisphere(in which I lived 5 months) kept throwing me off.

What do you mean you wear boardies and a tank top during Christmas? What do you mean you feel like an icicle in July?

So. Strange!

Because of this, the whole time I was in Melbourne with my friend Rose we sought to do museum and other indoor activities to keep out of the cold. One the exhibits I went to and loved was the Tim Burton art exhibit.

I have always liked Tim Burton movies (with the exception of Beetlejuice which haunted me as a child and still haunts me today) and so it was cool to explore many works of his I had never seen before.

I saw drawing and stories from the time he was the child and saw various props and costumes from his movies. What I remember the most from the exhibit was seeing some costumes from “Alice in Wonderland” which I had watched in the movie  theater while I lived in Australia.

2010 Melbourne, Australia

Now let’s Flashforward 2 1/2 years. I am living in South Korea and I discover that the Tim Burton Art Exhibit is on display at the Seoul Art Museum. I decide I absolutely must go up to Seoul and reconnect with my memories from the time I was in Australia.

Attempt #1:  A Monday

I go to the museum on a Monday feeling very excited to compare the differences between the exhibit I saw in Australia and the one in Korea.

Problem: The Museum is closed on Mondays! Gahhh!

 

I  have to leave early on Tuesday which means I can’t see it this time on my trip to Seoul. Bummer.  :/

Next time  I am in Seoul I vow to  make this happen for sure!

Attempt #2: A Sunday
This time I want to go early on a Sunday with my two friends. But it ends up being a lazy Sunday per usual and we get to the museum at 4pm.

Problem: The waiting period for the museum is 2 hours but I have to catch a bus back to the city I live in at 7pm! I don’t have time to make it.

Damn. This is annoying me. Seoul is about a 4 hour bus ride from Seoul with roundtrip bus fare about 52,000 won (about $50 USD). This trip ain’t cheap, so I don’t know when I will next get a chance to be in Seoul and see the exhibit.

Why!?!?!

Attempt #3: A Saturday
I am up in Seoul for a K-Pop concert and by hell or high water I WILL GO to this museum exhibit!!

I drag my friends out of our hostel and race to the museum where I discover, yet again, there is a 2 hour waiting time.

But this time I had planned for it, so my  friends and I wander around Deoksugung Palace until we can get into the museum. The entrance for the Palace was only a paltry 1,000 won = less than $1 USD. It’s a cool place to kill some time and also to see some of Korea’s history.

Finally, at last, the time comes in which we can enter the museum.  Yes!! Nothing can stop me now, muhahahaa.

I love taking my photos with Tim Burton monsters. Also, it appears as if I only have one outfit I wear in Korea. Ha.

Slight snag: There are hordes and hordes of people at the museum because it is a weekend and also because it is one of the last few weekends the exhibit is open.

I decide to skip over the long lines and wander around the parts of the exhibit that isn’t super crowded. The exhibit has many of the same things I saw while in Australia but a few different things, notably materials from his new movie “Frakenweenie” and from the short “Stain Boy.” If there are any “Alice in Wonderland” artifacts around, I don’t see them through the crowd.

Furthermore, my experience here accompanied by 5 friends is also vastly different than the time I saw it in Australia by myself. When I saw it in Australia my friend Rose decided to go to an Abba exhibit so I ended up exploring Tim Burton on my own.

This time there is a lot more laughing (laughing in a group over silly things is fine; laughing by yourself just causes you to receive strange looks) and a lot more posing for photos. Overall I think the highlight of my epic odyssey to see this exhibit was taking funny photos with my friends next to Tim Burton’s art work.

I just love Batman's itty bitty feet compared to the rest of his body!